Tiger numbers have fallen by 70 percent in slightly more than a decade in the Greater Mekong to only 350, according to the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF)’s report.
The report was released on the threshold of a conference on tiger conservation that will kick off in Hua Hin, Thailand, on Jan. 27.
It states that the tiger population in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam has plummeted from an estimated 1,200 from 1998 to about 350 in 2010 (the Year of the Tiger according to the 12-year-cycle Chinese zodiac).
Nick Cox, a co-organiser of the WWF Greater Mekong Tiger conference, warned of a potential local extinction of tiger populations in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in 2022 unless decisive actions are taken to protect them.
Forest destruction and the widespread illegal hunting and smuggling of tiger body parts for traditional medicine have driven the decline in the Greater Mekong tiger population, said the report.
At the Hua Hin meeting which will be followed up by the world’s Tiger Summit in Russia’s Vladivostok in September, WWF is calling on ministers of 13 regional countries to accelerate efforts to double the number of wild tigers by 2022.
The world’s tiger population has reduced from 100,000 a century ago to 20,000 three decades ago and 3,200 today./.